Albert Hunt: Bush Should Follow Reagan's 2nd Term Example and Govern from the Middle
George W. Bush loses few opportunities to claim Ronald Reagan as his model of presidential leadership; if he means it, he'll be a much less divisive leader in the second term.
Mr. Bush is appropriately exultant after winning an intense victory Tuesday; he's entitled to gloat over those of us who doubted he'd win or deserved to win.
But, unlike us, he faces the responsibility of governance. That should temper the euphoria. It was a GOP sweep, but it also was the narrowest win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.
Moreover, the history of second term presidents is sobering; many either overreach or become early lame ducks. Ronald Reagan was an exception of sorts as he focused more on legacy than ideology. Although with his landslide win 1984 he could have claimed a mandate for more of the same, he didn't. He moved to the center on both domestic issues -- the landmark 1986 tax bill was a genuinely bipartisan effort -- and on foreign affairs, particularly in his dealings with the Soviet Union and Mikhail Gorbachev. That second-term pragmatism is best detailed in Lou Cannon's superb biography of the Reagan presidency.
A re-election offers any president a new tableau. "Decision making no longer has to be made through the prism of re-election," notes Margaret Tutwiler, a top aide to Jim Baker in the Reagan administration. But she also warns: "In very short order, people start focusing on the next election. It's important to set your (legislative) priorities and move quickly."...
comments powered by Disqus
- Joan Baez, Sly Stone, Steve Martin, Ben E. King -- all honored by the Library of Congress
- StoryCorps to Launch Global Expansion With $1M TED Prize
- Hofstra Event Looks at Bush Presidency
- Did Israel steal uranium from a town in Pennsylvania in the 1960s?
- Sequel to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom to be published next year
- Emory’s Leslie Harris says we should remember the racist roots of American colleges as we think about what went wrong at OU and other schools
- Stanford historian looks to the U.S. Postal Service to map the boom and bust of 19th-century American West
- U.S. historian denounces Japanese scholars' statement over wartime sexual slavery
- Timothy V Johnson Named Head of Tamiment Library
- History Camp "unconference" returns for the second year in Boston